Trouble in Pulp Paradise

This post will only make sense to the more dedicated Puppyologists as it delves into factional conflicts within the nether regions of far-right science fiction.

As a reminder here is a chart I made a while ago to help people keep track:


The lefthand (not politically) of the chart is where we are looking today.

On March 3 Jeffo Johnson (on the chart above via his ‘Appendix N’ project looking at the literature that inspired Dungeons and Dragons) wrote a post about the cultural power of conservatives: Jeffro’s argument was essentially an appeal to Tolkien to demonstrate the cultural influence of conservatives. I don’t need to spell out the problems with that as an argument and in itself, it isn’t very interesting. However, there was pushback in the comments from some random person called “Groffin”. I won’t quote it because parts of it are anti-Semitic but basically, it was pointing out that the people Jeffro was pointing at were very much dead and gone and that people weren’t reading them for any kind of conservative message anyway. Apparently, this same commentator made similar points at Vox Day’s blog also and was then banned.

Jeffro then replied to this “Groffin” in another post

This still isn’t interesting. However, the comments are, including signs of some general reader pushback against poor quality works:

“I mean, I’ve read a lot of Castalia/PulpRev/Superversive stuff and paid for quite a few things and it sure looks like you’re not allowed to say meh about meh fiction because muh pulprev or whatever. Getting snarky about mediocre fiction is just replicating what mediocre SJWs do with less of their media platform and reach. Lying about numbers and traffic, same. I can see what sells because I keep up with this as I’m extremely supportive of conservative media alternatives (I use my checkbook power, as already noted). A lot of these writers aren’t very good. Some are decent, and some have real potential. I found a couple of really promising, decently selling authors via Castalia’s blog roundups of sci-fi and fantasy. But I also got burned multiple times by the promotion of crummy stuff as AH MAYYYYY ZINNNNNGGGGGG.”

At another factional spin-off blog “” there was a defence of the original “Groffin” comment and they even slapped a “gate” suffix to it – which is a thing.

Now, this piece is more interesting (not good but interesting. As well as being critical of Jeffro’s piece, it is also some of the most overt criticism I’ve seen from rightwing sources of the Sad Puppy campaigns:

“GroffinGate: Saying You Are Winning Is Not The Same Thing As Winning

I blame it on the Puppies.

The Pulp Revolution started out as a reaction against them, did you know that? What started as a movement to bring sanity and good writing back to an SFF establishment that had been increasingly obviously been co-opted by bigoted cultists degenerated into a movement that focused on appearances, gave high praise to mediocre works, and generated more clicks through defensive blog posts about how great they were than through anything they actually created.”

Here “Puppies” means the more core clique of rightwing authors that’s basically Mad Genius plus Larry Correia, rather than people who may have given support more generally.

Again in the comments, there are interesting comments from surprising sources (at least from a left perspective) about the 2015 Sad Puppy picks. This comment which appears to be from Cirsova magazine:

None of the short fiction picks back in 2015 were very good. Lou Antonelli’s was an interesting germ of an idea but the execution left something to be desired. Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer was pretty twee and struck me as the sort of thing they’d’ve complained about if “an SJW SF writer” had written it. Annie Bellett’s story had the best form, but still relied on the trope of “the faceless angry dangerous white men in times of trouble” for its human conflict. Totaled was twee and boring for a Brain-in-a-Jar story; Jeffro could not have been more right about how much it paled in comparison to C.L. Moore’s No Woman Born. Turncoat managed to make a battle in outer space so matter-of-fact dull I couldn’t finish it.”

I assume this isn’t the first time comments like this have been aired by people who weren’t overtly anti-Puppy but I haven’t seen many like this before.

Superversive ‘s Anthony M is more generally defensive about whether they are an insular community in general:

Anyway, it will be interesting to see if this generates further splinters and interesting to see if there is more reader pushback against the mediocrity of a lot of what is being published in rightwing science fiction. Outside of that world, I think ti has always been obvious that there was a huge gulf between the quality of the work and how great these groups were claiming the writing was but it was hard to disentangle that from the multitude of other issues (ideological, structural and ethical).

41 thoughts on “Trouble in Pulp Paradise

  1. For the record, I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I thought the Puppy short fic picks weren’t very good and been saying so since 2015. But times I’ve pointed it out, there have been shrieking idiots calling me a liar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for clarifying. It’s an easy error on my part to assume that what I didn’t look at therefore didn’t exist. It bugs me when others make that mistake and it bugs me more when I end up doing the same thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh noes, am I a “dedicated Puppyologist”?

    With further factionalisation and splintering we really are just down to the level of individual people arguing with each other.

    I’m interested by Cirsova (sorry, I forget his actual name) picking on the puppy short fiction. He may be an ass but he’s at least shown the courage of his convictions and successfully run a zine for the sort of stories he says he wants.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. So the puppies have been whining about “SJW message fiction” for years, and now it appears that all they can write in reaction to it is mediocre right-wing “SJW message fiction”.

    Can you say ‘hypocrites’ boys and girls? Sure you can.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I guess by now people have discovered that the whole puppything was mainly about (or at least ended with) endorcing each others book. In other words: marketing ploy.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well, yes.
      SP1 was baldly about getting a Hugo for Larry Correia.

      SP2 was unabashedly about getting a Hugo for Larry Correia and some of his friends, including subsequent Puppy campaign managers Brad Torgersen and Sarah Hoyt, as well as about “making SJW heads explode,” as Correia explained when asked about his decision to nominate a notably clumsy and turgid novella by VD as one of the best sf/f works of the year.

      SP3 was launched with a convoluted attempt to pretend it was about something fine and noble (ethics in gaming journalism!… oh, wait, was that a different thing?) combined with a much more successful attempt to broadly insult past Hugo winners, nominees, voters, and committees); but I think MZ Williamson’s account of how his booklet of Tweets got on the ballot as one of the best works of the year sums it up SP3 best: his friend Brad Torgersen asked him what he had published in the past year that could go on the SP3 Hugo slate.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Hey, don’t forget that SP3 only got the results it did because of its connection with RP1, which was Teddy boy using the flunkies he’d gotten in Gamergate while they were still fresh.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. I have a vague recollection that the puppies began by selling themselves as the heirs of Campbell before the embrace of the pulp revolution and the attempt to take up the mantle of Gernsback, but it’s hard to keep up with the sheer density of explanations offered by the group (It’s almost as if they read Freud’s kettle defense and took it as a model of discourse), and I many be may be wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Cirsova: For the record, I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I thought the Puppy short fic picks weren’t very good and been saying so since 2015. But times I’ve pointed it out, there have been shrieking idiots calling me a liar.

    Citations required. 🙄


  7. They’re always yelling about SJW groupthink, but rant at their own (like Cirsova and the “muh pulprev” commenter) who dare point out they’re doing the same damn thing. With less success and more self-congratulation. And dumping on anyone who dares point out that a lot of the stuff that was gamed onto the ballot was complete crap.

    The savvier conservatives who support — politically and financially — the Pup works have bought and read the stuff and found it wanting in quality. Regardless of politics, people want to read well-written prose and very few will support “meh fiction because muh pulprev”.

    Even their supporters are tired of the circle-jerk marketing, lying about sales (so much for their vaunted ethics), etc. which is being run to prop up some bad fiction. Scrappies just started where SP3 left off, which… WTF?

    The second quote is exactly how I felt about the 2015 work. It was dull and badly-written. Nobody, Puppy or SJW wants to waste time on that.

    Kinda shows that Amazon’s right to delete some of their reviews.

    Also heartening to see that even supporters of an anti-Semitic rant are finally saying that the movement’s been taken over by “bigoted cultists”. Which, y’know, us “SJWs” realized the second Teddy completely took the process away from Brad… but better late than never.

    (Also also, I keep wanting to smack Mr. Jefferson’s parents for naming him “Jeffro”. That’s a lot of dumb for a guy to overcome. What was wrong with “Jeffrey”? Or at least “Jethro”?)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lurkertype: (Also also, I keep wanting to smack Mr. Jefferson’s parents for naming him “Jeffro”. That’s a lot of dumb for a guy to overcome. What was wrong with “Jeffrey”? Or at least “Jethro”?)

      “Jeffro Johnson” is a pseudonym.


      1. Oh good. Now I can just think badly of him for picking such a stupid pen name. Among other things.
        I hope his real name isn’t worse.


    2. Part of thing about Beale is, he’s been getting so damn odd lately that even normal bigots find him… off now.

      I mean, he’s ranting about Irish and Italian immigrants and the threat they posed (pose) to the American way of life.

      Yes, really.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. PhilRM. Yes. Your point? It’s Beale, logic and reason are things that don’t apply, no matter how much he screams Aristotelian.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Huh. I’d thought of Cirsova as puppy-adjacent, rather than an actual puppy. Wasn’t he/she doing the pulp revival pre-puppy?


  9. Thanks for reading and tracking this stuff so I don’t have to.

    “and was then banned.”


    “But I also got burned multiple times by the promotion of crummy stuff as AH MAYYYYY ZINNNNNGGGGGG”

    And THAT is why Castalia is going to fail – because VD has purposefully antagonized one segment of the market in exchange for locking down a different segment solely based on their capacity for outrage-based budgeting, which tends not to last more than 5 years, if that; and once you remove the outrage motivation, there’s very little of substance left to prop up the business.

    I don’t say the conservative side of the market is necessarily larger or smaller than the progressive side. I have absolutely no data one way or the other for which to draw any conclusions on that, although it strikes me that the escapist nature of SF/F could lend itself more to people with progressive tendencies. I do say that the portion of the conservative market that is willing to buy on VD’s say-so is a very small subset, much smaller than the portion of the progressive side that will refuse to have anything to do with him, and within about 3 more years, too small a subset to keep a business in operation.

    “always been obvious that there was a huge gulf between the quality of the work and how great these groups were claiming the writing was”

    Yes. Absolutely. And that is their biggest weakness: the desperate wish to believe that victory can be proclaimed into existence, rather than sitting down and working at it and investing 20 years and some actual skill.

    You see this in lots of other things VD does, too – for example: That’s a tremendously informative curve. The upward swing tracks exactly with VD’s blog itself as he was riding the wave of Trumpian ascendancy; the dropoff is VD’s audience losing interest and deciding they didn’t need a wikipedia replacement, ending on a decaying slope very characteristic of a permanently shrinking userbase – astoundingly, at this point it is even less used than Conservapedia, which is a joke even through most of the right wing. At no point is there any indication of any interest in the product outside of VD’s immediate audience. In a real business, this would be a critical strategic weakness that everybody would be desperately trying to solve with a multitude of highly visible maneuvers – promotions, linkage from friendly sites, showcasing of features, etc. In an ego project, it gets ignored.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think even Beale has largely lost interest in Infogalactic at this point. So far as I can tell, two of the editors doing the most work right now are a couple of very strange characters who’ve been either tossed out of or simply marginalized at other wikis. One of whom believes that the Titanic sinking was staged, for example.

      So, we get weird, rambling entries for “The Shadow Party”, with things like a picture of Robert Douglas playing Ellsworth Toohney in ‘The Fountainhead’ with a weird caption. You know–stuff Conservapedia would probably cull.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s actually gotten me to revisit. I mean–up till now, it’s pretty much been “Conservapedia, only mostly boring, and with lazy editors”. Now it’s getting crazy.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Turning to the earlier part of this–as you note, that’s not a sustainable business model, even if one were handling things in something close to a responsible manner. With Beale’s frequently bizarre, counterproductive antics–hell, I don’t think Castalia was ever really turning a profit in the “feast” days, so who knows what’s going to happen when the “famine” hits…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Space Oddity: Teddy will be fine since he can still live off the trust fund from his felon daddy’s grifted money (And benefiting from the evul Commie socialized medicine, lax tax enforcement, and lack of extradition treaty of Italy). He’ll just move onto another grift. None of his vanity projects actually needs to make any money; they’re strictly for egoboo.


      2. Oh, I’ve no doubt Teddy will be fine himself–he’s got money squirreled away, and relatives who I suspect would rather he not starve. All I’m wondering is how fiery a collapse are we looking at here…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. @Space Oddity: JCW’s gonna have to go out begging for charity again. Teddy’s not supporting him now that his usefulness as a cat’s paw is over, and no decent publisher is going to hire him to write novels now that his name’s toxic and his prose is completely turgid and opaque. I don’t think Jagi makes enough in writing to cover their nut; I hope she has a day job with good benefits.

        I doubt any of the others were living off that money so they can go on with their day jobs and lying about their Amazon sales.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. @Lurkertype

        Has he actually done anything extraditable? I thought his father was the lawbreaker.


      5. @Lurkertype. If JCW and Lamplighter are both freelancers they might depend on Ocare for health insurance. And consequently suffering from Mr Wright’s PoTUS of choice attempts to sabotage and kill it. So much winning.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. astoundingly, at this point it is even less used than Conservapedia, which is a joke even through most of the right wing.

      Well, Conservapedia has some things that Infogalactic doesn’t have:
      A certain amount of old-school Conservative support because of the Schlafly name.
      Support from other organizations because it was originally meant to be used as a resource for the more fundamentalist home-schoolers.
      Editors who have been around for years and who have a lot emotionally invested in it.
      A significant hate-read following; Infogalactic rarely got taken seriously enough to even warrant this.
      The second point is a non-trivial one. Infogalactic never really got noticed by the real gatekeepers in that sort of ‘Conservative’ community, the people trying to create an enclosed theocratic bubble that they can raise kids in. VD is more interested in trolling the liberals than in raising the next generation of Know-Nothings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think Beale had some mad dream of becoming a NEW gatekeeper for a new, replacement right community, but as usual, he had very little idea of how to go about doing this.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. VD is more interested in trolling the liberals than in raising the next generation of Know-Nothings.

    Given that he’s homeschooling his kids, why not both?

    [I suspect he relies more on Conservapœdia than Infogalactic, on a hunch]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hey, one of your ads is misbehaving by jumping me to another website where I have “won a gift card”. The same thing happened to me on another site today, so it must be the ad supplier. The new website was consumerproductsusa, I think. I was able to get back in two clicks, which is better than some rude popup ads. Would you remind reporting them?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Whoops, Chrome must be doing some blocking for me. Looking at this page in IE, I see the ads. Sorry for the wrong info!


      2. The other site is apparently getting a lot of complaints about popups in mobile browsers (I’m using Chrome on an Android device). They mentioned it in the auto-reply to my complaint.

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.